PHILADELPHIA – The 30 schools that comprise the Philadelphia-area Sports Information Directors (PhillySIDA) have voted Rowan University field hockey player Kristiina Castagnola and Villanova University men’s basketball player Collin Gillespie and as the 2021-22 Overall Female and Male Performers of the Year, respectively, in the annual PhillySIDA Academic All-Area program.
PhillySIDA names 24 Academic All-Area teams during the course of the academic year—12 in men’s sports, 12 in women’s sports—and has a Performer of the Year in each of those sports. At the end of the year, all of the Performers of the Year are put on a second ballot, and PhillySIDA members vote to determine both a male and female Overall Performer of the Year.
That Castagnola and Gillespie were selected for this honor is not surprising. Both had outstanding years and careers in their respective sports.
Kristiina Castagnola (Voorhees, NJ/Eastern) earned first-team All-America and Region IV Player of the Year honors from the National Field Hockey Coaches Association (NFHCA) this season, making her a two-time All-America, and was named the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC) Midfielder of the Year. A three-time first-team All-NJAC selection, Castagnola was honored as the NJAC’s Female Athlete of the Year across all women’s sports at the end of the school year.
Castagnola was the leading scorer for Rowan’s field hockey team in 2021, scoring 18 goals and adding eight assists. The Profs enjoyed a seminal season in 2021, going 18-3 overall, winning the NJAC regular-season and tournament titles, and making a run all the way to the NCAA Division 3 Championship semifinal round where they lost to eventual national champion Middlebury. Castagnola was named to the NCAA All-Tournament Team, had five multi-goal games in 2021, and scored three game-winning goals. That included an OT winner that gave Rowan the NJAC Tournament title over Kean on November 6.
Castagnola has tallied 111 points in three seasons so far at Rowan, scoring 45 goals and dishing out 21 assists.
Named to the 2021 NFHCA Senior Team, Castagnola was a third-team CoSIDA Academic All-America selection in that program’s at-large category and an NFHCA Scholar of Distinction. She has also been a Rowan Scholar-Athlete of Distinction and an NJAC All-Academic honoree. Castagnola is pursuing her master’s degree in Higher Education Administration.
Collin Gillespie (Huntingdon Valley, PA) bookended his five-year career at Villanova with a national championship ring as a freshman (in 2017-18) and a second Final Four run this past season as a grad student. He was the 2021-22 Bob Cousy Award recipient as the nation’s top point guard and was a third-team All-America selection by the Associated Press, the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and The Sporting News.
Gillespie became just the sixth player in Big East history to be named Player of the Year twice in men’s basketball, and he capped his conference career with the 2021-22 Dave Gavitt Award as Big East Tournament MVP after leading VU past Creighton in the title game. Gillespie also was voted the 2021-22 Philadelphia Big 5 Player of the Year as he led the Wildcats to the city series title, and he ended his career as a four-time All-Big 5 selection including first-team honors each of the last three seasons.
Gillespie averaged 15.6 points and 3.8 rebounds per game in 2021-22, led the Wildcats with 121 assists, and was second on the team with 39 steals. He played in 156 games over five seasons, a program record, and ended his career with 1,858 points which is 12th on Villanova’s all-time scoring list.
In the classroom, Gillespie was named 2021-22 Big East Scholar-Athlete of the Year which made him the first player in conference history to earn Player of the Year and Scholar-Athlete of the Year in the same season. He received a Graduate Education Certificate from Villanova.